Russia has denied any links to snipers who killed people in Ukraine’s capital Kiev back in February, blaming pro-EU forces instead.
On Friday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused Ukraine’s interim government of disregarding an independent investigation into the sniper fire during protests in Kiev.
“We did not have and could not have had any relation to these crimes,” Lavrov said.
Lavrov also referred to a recent telephone conversation between European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet.
In the 11-minute conversation, whose authenticity has been confirmed by the Estonian Foreign Ministry, Paet said the deaths in February were to blame on the snipers hired by the Maidan coalition, which is the main provocateur of the crisis in Kiev.
“There is now stronger and stronger understanding that behind the snipers, it was not (Ukraine’s then President Viktor) Yanukovych, but it was somebody from the new coalition,” Paet said during the conversation.
The leaked tape of the conversation proves that opponents of Yanukovych were behind the killings, Lavrov noted.
Lavrov’s comments come after Ukraine’s new officials accused Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) of killing the protesters at Kiev’s Maidan Square upon an order from Yanukovych.
The FSB has also denied the allegations, saying the claims will remain on the conscience of Ukraine’s current government.
Almost a hundred protesters were killed during the February shootings in Kiev. The violence, which was followed by anti-government rallies, led to the overthrow of Yanukovych.
Political crisis erupted in Ukraine in November 2013, when Yanukovych refrained from signing an Association Agreement with the EU in favor of closer ties with Russia.